Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published a comprehensive report about serious workplace illnesses that occurred over the course of 2015. This report is based on data from states under OSHA control and does not include information from states that administer their own safety and health programs. The report was prepared using data collected through new OSHA reporting requirements. Starting on January 1, 2015, employers were mandated to alert OSHA within 24 hours after a worker experienced an amputation, the loss of an eye, or hospitalization due to a work injury.
More than a year after the new reporting requirements went into effect, OSHA believes there is still significant underreporting going on. OSHA has reviewed workers' compensation claims and other data to determine there are many severe injuries still going unreported.
In fact, as many as 50 percent of the serious worksite injuries which should be reported are not revealed to OSHA by employers. This could be because employers don't think they'll get caught, because the risk of non-reporting seems low, or because employers simply aren't aware of new requirements.
Whatever the reason, the real number of serious injuries might actually be higher and the threat of a serious injury might even be worse. Still, the data does provide insight into the highest-risk industries where workers are most likely to suffer grave harm due to on-the-job incidents.
Risks of Serious Workplace Incidents As Reported by OSHA
According to OSHA, 10,388 incidents occurred during the course of 2015 in which workers sustained serious workplace injuries. Among these incidents, 2,644 were amputations and 7,636 were incidents in which workers were admitted for inpatient treatment to a hospital. With these numbers, around 30 severe work-related injuries are happening every day.
Manufacturing was the most dangerous profession based on the reports of serious accidents and amputations. In total, 26 percent of the injuries leading to hospitalization affected manufacturing workers. The amputation rate was even worse, with 57 percent of amputations occurring in the manufacturing sector.
Construction had the second highest rates of both hospitalizations and amputation, with construction workers accounting for 19 percent of inpatient hospital stays and 10 percent of amputations. Transportation and warehousing was third in hospitalizations, accounting for 10 percent of workers who were hospitalized. When it comes to amputations, however, it was workers in the wholesale trade who had the third highest amputation rates and who accounted for 5 percent of all workers who lost body parts.
In any sector, a hospitalization can be costly and a serious injury like an amputation can result in the need for expensive, ongoing medical care. An injury or amputation can also end a career, especially in fields like construction or manufacturing that involve intense, physical labor. Employers in high risk sectors need to be aware of dangers and try to do a better job as far as safety precautions to protect workers. Employees also need to know of the risks they face on the job and should understand their right to receive workers' compensation benefits in the event a serious injury happens.